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Leggo my Lego

February 15, 2012

Back in first grade I won a $75 savings bond by photographing some kids leaping into the air. It had a ten year maturity period, and that wasn’t going to happen. I sweated through six months before cashing it in for half its value. This was enough – with a little parental help – to buy the yellow Lego castle my sister and I had been eyeing for months.

It came with horses and a drawbridge and four different coats-of-arms. It was the pinnacle of our Lego collection. We waged imaginary battles from its turrets and named all of our soldiers. Later we got a grey castle and the battles grew. The blocks and bricks became background to our medieval medley; a repository of spare parts for shining soldiers. I fondly remember rooting through that cardboard box in search of the perfect piece.

About a year ago my sister sent me the saved remains of our childhood construction set. It fit into a shoebox! And was a mere foothill to my own family’s Lego mountain. Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe that Lego has undergone inflation. Whereas a set or two – and some bricks – used to be plenty for a family of four, we’ve had to rearrange furniture and designate a Lego room simply to keep the pieces from overtaking our house.

Today is Eva’s seventh birthday. And yes – she got a Lego kit. She also bought one three days ago with money she’d earned all by herself. Now she’s saving for the next one.

Is this too much? I know what my mother would say. I know what my daughter would say. But how do I feel? There are many ways of looking at an event; which story do I want to subscribe to?

1)      Lego is without a doubt my favorite petroleum byproduct. It offers the raw materials for creativity without blatant product-placement commercialism.

2)      On the other hand, the original Lego company lost their lease some years ago, so product-placement now exists within the Lego realm. These days you can find Darth Lego, Indiana Lego, Legoman and Robin, Polly Lego, and even Lego Potter.

3)      On the third hand, I’m not paying for it so I should probably just shut my mouth. Eva saved the money herself and deserves to spend it how she wants.

4)      However, the way she saves money is by helping to fold towels and washcloths around the house. And her mom pays a quarter apiece! So it really is family money, and it doesn’t take many washcloths to add up to a set. She’s got a good thing going.

5)      Then again, see number 3.

6)      But this is our slow season; we don’t have a lot of money coming in right now, and the last thing we need to be doing is spending it frivolously.

7)      But if I’m the one to speak up, I’ll turn into the bad guy. Daddy No Fun for sure. The parent who refused a present because of some nonsensical thing called ‘budgeting.’ Also see #3.

8)      We really don’t need any more Lego.

When does a good thing lose its flavor? I haven’t sat down to play Lego for weeks. There’s just too damn much of the stuff. It’s overflowing the train-track table and there’s nowhere to build.

Not that it’s stopped Eva. She’ll sit down and create for hours, and I don’t want to stifle that. If she becomes a renowned architect I’ll know that every penny was well spent.

Until then, I’ll stick with #3


From → Rants

  1. Secret Admirer permalink

    #3 — Keeping your mouth shut….hmmm. Maybe I should.

    But isn’t a parent’s job to guide, to discuss, to show the way? Isn’t communication the foundation on which we build relationship?

    Some would say that being the bad guy comes with the job. Who can always be good? Who would want to?

    Kids need to learn in every possible way from their parents. This is how they will avoid learning from a REALLY bad guy.

    My belief is, it’s as important to protect our kids from consumerism as it is to protect them from racism and a host of other destructive isms. How do we protect them if we don’t talk with them about it?????

    • You may be glad to hear that we have decided to take apart everything on the Lego table and organize out the pieces from all the kits we’ve bought over the years. Then Eva can have the experience of building the house kits we already have which she was too young to build before. If the pieces are set out for her, she can follow the directions and build anything. But in the huge Lego madness there is no way. This feels like a good way to get a lot of value out of what we have without buying anything more.

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